by Peter Madsen
"The criminal class is a more exact cross-section of humanity than any trade could be." –Luc Sante, interview by The Believer
Weed, coke, heroin, molly, promethazine, crack, PCP, LCD, opium, hashish, mushrooms, and countless other illicit substances flood the streets of New York City where they are consumed as quickly as they can be delivered. The War on Drugs may have been declared in 1971, but the numbers are in and the government’s $1.5 trillion war has done little to nothing to kink the flow of drugs in America. In New York City the NYPD has even instated a Stop and Frisk policy that, since its 2002 inception, has resulted in millions of New Yorkers being unconstitutionally stopped and searched. This controversial policy has heightened the danger for the city’s intrepid drug dealers, who brave all weather and police-profiling to meet their customers' insatiable desires. Add on the constant threat of violence and robbery, and it is arguably the most high-risk yet lucrative time to be a NYC dealer. Demand never ceases to grow, and where there is demand, there will always be plenty of outlaw capitalists willing to step up and supply.
For Dealers, street reporter Peter Madsen set out across New York City—from staid Gramercy residences to bleak homeless hangouts; grimy Bushwick bike messenger bars and tony Park Avenue penthouses—to interview this particular criminal class. Through anonymous one-on-one interviews with an alarmingly wide host of subjects (including a transient heroin-addict supporting his habit, cute art-school girls running a weed lounge, a connection-ready concierge, fixed-gear weed couriers, stick-up kids, and a couple lawyers who deal on the side), Madsen extracts un-glamorized, sometimes hilarious, and always nuanced accounts of the navigators of New York City's expansive drug underworld.
- powerHouse Books, May 2014
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